Three Signposts on the Road to Upskilling

The pandemic is bound to lead organisations to have a sense of urgency about honing less-appreciated competencies. The challenge lies in developing systems that would sustain the exercise. To be one step ahead of any danger that may befall it in the future, a wild boar in an Aesop’s Fable makes its tusks battle-ready by grating them against a tree stump. A fox mocks the boar’s “overcautiousness” by gekkering, looking overwrought as if a blast of hunters is on its bushy tail.

To be one step ahead of any danger that may befall it in the future, a wild boar in an Aesop’s Fable makes its tusks battle-ready by grating them against a tree stump. A fox mocks the boar’s “overcautiousness” by gekkering, looking overwrought as if a blast of hunters is on its bushy tail.

In a corrective tone, the wild boar tells the fox that when danger does show up, it would not wait, hat in hand, for its victim to engage in a last-minute tusk-sharpening exercise.

An organisation is either the sapient wild-boar or the smug fox. In recent years, with a surfeit of conversations around reskilling and upskilling, many organisations are “wild-boarish” about it especially where technology is concerned. Or at least, they know they should be. The pandemic would only have heightened the sense of urgency where this already existed in some measure. Where this did not exist, the pandemic likely created it.

During the pandemic, TO THE NEW, a digital technology services company, launched two initiatives. One was a Learning Challenge, organised between June and August, that encouraged employees across the organisation to pick up a certification, and challenge someone else to go the same. The course fee was reimbursed.

“We got some 160-odd certifications done around that time,” says Satya Sharma, CHRO & Co-founder, TO THE NEW.

The other initiative was more targetted, and Satya explains that in this one, a strong monitoring mechanism was employed, but at the same time, the intervention was kept subtle so that it did not come across as in-the-face or as micromanaging.

Explains Satya, “Being an IT company, there would always be a certain amount of bench, and this group would be racked with anxiety. And our next initiative focussed on taking care of this group,” begins Satya. “In our organisation, we have a system where every HR partner is tasked with ensuring that the learning needs of 150 employees are met. From the day an employee joins the organisation to the day they leave, an HR partner is responsible for their learning, and this includes providing them with a learning plan. In alignment with this system, HR partners drew up a list of certifications that those on the bench during the pandemic could take up by way of upskilling/reskilling. We sought feedback from them trying to find out if they were enjoying this initiative or seeing it as micro-managing, with somebody constantly on their back, pushing them to do things. Fortunately, 99 percent of the people said that this was a great initiative.”

See the media coverage here .

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